Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Planning for Drought

(This particular drought as portrayed in this picture, took place in Texas.   Picture: )

              In parts of Taiwan this week, water shortages are so severe that two days a week public water is being cut off.  People are surviving by stocking water in containers each week while the water is running, in anticipation of the two consecutive days when it is turned off.  The government is also providing emergency water in urns throughout the city for those desperate for water during the days in which public water is off.  This is making life particularly difficult for restaurants who depend on large amounts of water in order to cook, wash vegetables, and provide water for drinking.  There was no mention in the articles I read as to the impact on agriculture in that region.  Water shortages to such a degree are very likely to impact public health negatively when hand washing becomes much less likely.   What happens in other nations could be an indicator of actions coming to the US, and soon.

              California which produces half of the fruits and vegetables in the US, is looking at the sixth year of serious drought.  There has been a doubling of the population of California, but no plans for additional reservoirs or for desalinization of ocean water as is done in Saudi Arabia.  Many farmers are going out of business as selling their water shares back to their local water authority proved more fiscally responsible for them than planting crops this year.  Almonds and walnuts, which I learned this week require more water than many crops, are likely to become scarce and extremely expensive.  Vegetables and fruit from California are likely to become much more costly as a result of this protracted drought.

               I am the descendant of a Merced Falls, California ranching family.  Through books and what has been related to me as family history, serious drought has been a prominent feature in the lives of California ranchers and farmers as long as history has been recorded there.  It was unwise of government to continue to allow more and more families to enter California beyond its carrying capacity,  without making additional plans for the provision of water.  Largely, the state has been a sitting duck for the next drought for a long time.  This next year will have negative effects on the rest of our country as well because we depend upon California so heavily for everything from lettuce and strawberries to nuts, avocados, grapes, and livestock products.

             A few years ago we had a drought in the state in which I reside now.   Everyone from Lowe's to Burger King replaced their sinks with trickling water which shuts off the moment someone rinses their hands in a restroom.  Of course, there will be effects of diminishing hand washing water availability.  Your food being made by someone who could not properly wash his hands will spread everything from salmonella to E-Coli.   During droughts, use common sense about eating out.  If fast food or other restaurants are short of water, will they keep the kitchen as clean as they did before ?  Will they wash the vegetables as well as they did ?  A ten second hand wash will not be as effective as a minute one, and I don't care what chemical hand soap you are using.

              No matter where you are, drought or even temporary water shortage of some kind should be a point of focus for emergency planning.   If you receive municipal water, think ahead to how you and your family might cope during a temporary water problem.   Where would you get water to use for cooking, toilet flushing, bathing, tooth brushing and drinking ?  What about your animals ?   How would you purify drinking water if necessary ?  What about babies or family members with special needs, or those who are incontinent and need to bathe more often ?

              We need to consider how we would run our homes in the event of a water shortage, wherever our location.   Most of us already know that we can brush teeth without running the sink continuously, and by putting water in a bathroom sized paper cup.   Most of us have flow restrictors on shower heads already.  Many of us have already planted flowers that require less water than others.   Please take this time to gather or purchase water containers should a water interruption or a drought come your way. Those of us with horses or other livestock need to make plans now for intermittent or protracted water interruptions.

These are some prior posts which are related to this topic and may be helpful